Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, advocates taking a weekly “artist date”. What is an artist date? She explains:

“The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic”– think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play.”

Last week, I went on an Artist Date. Solo. To the local art museum. I’m not sure when I last visited a museum alone– usually I have had kids with me.  I am clearly in a new phase when I can visit as museum alone.

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In reality, it is not so much about visiting a museum, or going alone, as it is about the “artist date”– taking time to explore something of interest. It can be as simple as taking a walk. It could be anything that encourages a sense of creativity and fun. The point is to take time to refresh and rejuvenate imagination and creativity and to be fun, mischievous, and playful.

The museum was renovated several months ago, and I had not been to see it yet. Sitting on the shore of Lake Michigan, the building itself is of artistic and architectural interest.

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Since I was alone, I could wander where I chose, and take as much time as I wanted. That part I truly enjoyed. I set the agenda and the pace.  I did not see everything- purposefully, because I want to return.

This time, I was able to select a few favorites, that I’d like to see again on a future visit.

But the visit did something deeper that I wasn’t aware of the time.

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I came back searching and pondering and mulling over new words and ideas. I suppose the purpose for the outing worked.

At times I have wondered if literature and art truly emulate the human experience with all of its layers and levels. I have wondered if literature truly expressed reality, or is it an embellishment, or exaggeration, of real life?

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I questioned the same with art. Some pieces are clearly an exaggeration an embellishment. Others pieces are simple, yet complex. Yet others are just simple, conveying one idea. I also find more that are both complex and confusing.

Coffee Lid Art

Coffee Lid Art

If art and literature are truly reflections of reality, though, granted, some artists take artistic license, then  I was having trouble. Because some of the reality I could identify with, and others I could not.

Yet, reality is reality even though there are some experiences I have not yet experienced. That doesn’t make it less real.  Though I may be discouraged by the fact that some realities are far from my experience it doesn’t make it less of a reality. Does that make sense? (Or maybe that’s about as clear as an abstract painting?) 🙂

Furthermore, art exposes and reveals something in us, and that is why we enjoy looking at it. We do identify; otherwise, we would not go to observe and think and marvel and laugh and cry. We learn from the paintings that depict one moment in time, such as the moment Christ speaks to the High Priest, a lion faces a sunset, boaters row in a lake, ladies chat at a picnic outdoors, or a sunset illuminates the side of a mountain.  There are stories in those moments that we understand.

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I walked away refreshed. I enjoyed the freedom to explore and watch and sit. I enjoyed thinking, though next time I will be able to sit and think longer. This time, I did have some things on my list to cover… so I didn’t sit in one spot.

Museums are interesting places.

Here are a few quotes about art, which I find inspiring:

“You might as well ask an artist to explain his art, or ask a poet to explain his poem. It defeats the purpose. The meaning is only clear thorough the search.”
–Rick Riordan

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?”
― John Keats, Letters of John Keats

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”
― Vincent van Gogh

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
― Albert Einstein, The World As I See It

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”
― Leonardo da Vinci


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A number of the museums in my city offer a “free” day on a regular basis. Though it is a bit more crowded on those days, what an opportune time to visit!

Do you implement an “Artist Date” (or some other kind of creative, playful, or restful activity) reguarly in your routine? When was your last “Artist Date”?